New England National Park celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2010. Arising from the vision and dedication of a few influential citizens, New England National Park was first gazetted on the 24 May 1935 after intense lobbying initiated by Mr Phillip A. Wright of Wallamumbi.
The park was officially opened by the Governor General of Australia (His Excellency Lord Gowrie) on 17 April 1937. In a well-documented event, a downpour forced the large crowd to wait at the end of the road some kilometres from the park, while the small official party proceeded to Point Lookout by motor vehicle, pulled by horse up the steep track to the summit. The opening ceremony was repeated later in the afternoon on the banks of the Serpentine River for the benefit of the gathered crowd.
The park initially included 17,070 hectares at the head of the Bellinger Valley including Point Lookout. A trust was appointed to "care for, control and manage the park", and many distinguished local citizens joined Phillip and later his son Peter Wright in this voluntary role.
Mr Cliff Mosely was appointed as the first park ranger in 1936 to commence walking track construction and the clearing of a picnic area with a small annual grant of just 200 pounds. In the 1960s, more staff were employed and a residence, incorporating a small visitor centre and tourist chalet were built at Banksia Point.
In 1975 the trust relinquished control of the park to the National Parks and Wildlife Service and was replaced by an advisory committee on which many trust members continued to serve the park they loved.
A significant area of 1353 hectares in the upper Bellinger Valley was added to the park in 2008. This remote valley was first settled by farming families in the 1930s to produce cream and bacon, but abandoned after access was blocked by landslides after the 1950 flood. Later, landholders produced beef and timber from the alluvial flats and surrounding forests until the property was purchased by NPWS for protection and rehabilitation. Old houses and dairies remain as mute sentinels of this by-gone era.
The Brinerville-Darkwood area now hosts the New England Wilderness walk - a bushwalking route descending over 1300m from the top of the escarpment to the Bellinger River.
The park has now grown to 72,241 hectares in its 75th year. It also celebrates 25 years of World Heritage in 2011 as part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.